I am one of 200 bakers around the world involved in an amazing baking challenge.
It is not a contest, but instead a group of mostly food bloggers who together are baking our way through the James Beard Award baking book, The Bread Baker's Apprentice. Penned by Peter Reinhart, a baker extraordinaire that I have admired since his days as a baker in Sonoma County, California. His first book, Brother Juniper's Bread Book has long been a staple in my kitchen.
The Challenge started when Pinch My Salt blogger, Nicole invited us to join her in the challenge to bake one recipe together each week and blog about it. So, the 200 of us are on our way.
This is week one. Our bread is called Anadama, a cornmeal (Polenta actually) infused bread that makes a really nice toast as well as awesome croutons and bread crumbs. I even used the dough as a pizza dough with fantastic success. Anadama has a fun story about it, Supposedly a very long time ago in Rockport Massachusetts a man was mad at his wife, Anna not only for leaving him, but also for leaving him with a pot of cornmeal and molasses, which he threw together with some yeast and flour muttering, "Anna Damn Her!"
And so, here are some photos of the first bread and a pizza I made.
The process is a long one, involving some waiting time while the polenta soaks 24 hours and the dough can also be slowed in rising midway through baking. Let me just say, the wait is worth it. Essentially it is a simple bread to make, just time consuming vs. an everyday loaf. The slight crunch added by the cornmeal and the slightly sweet and rich taste of the molasses work ever so well together.
I would like to continue perfecting technique on this bread, adding whole wheat flour in place of the unbleached bread flour and working on the second rise a bit. I also noticed (too late) that I made one loaf bigger than the other.
Here the loaves are in the oven baking:
And since we just moved to Hawaii, I could not find my carbon steel bread pans. I usually make baguettes and free formed breads, so I was limited to these two smaller ceramic bakers, which worked fine, but I do want to try baking it in metal pans.
Here is a BLT I made with the Anadama Bread, toasted.
I will not be posting all of the recipes here for the breads, as it would be against copyright laws to do so, but I will be posting pictures, methods, successes and failures and challenges of doing these breads in a Hawaiian climate and with limited resources for ingredients. And I may post an occasional recipe. Mostly, I want to encourage you, my readers to go buy the book if you do not own it already and follow along, posting comments about your experiences. You certainly don't have to make every bread in the book as we are, but at least try some of them.
Every Monday I will post about the bread I made that week. Our next bread is Artos: Greek Celebration Bread, which can be formed in a variety of ways. Please, if you are joining me in this challenge, or just baking one or two breads, send me an e-mail and let me know and feel free to create your own blog posts and link them here under comments so other readers can see what you are doing.
If you live in the Hilo area and would like to come make bread with me, that would be great too! Just send me a note and we can make it happen.